Despite the various challenges facing reprographers today, developing sound eco-friendly business practices and assisting their architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) customers to meet their own sustainability goals continues to be an ongoing focus for many. The catalyst behind this can be attributed to recent industry outlook studies that define green building as one of the most influential trends impacting the AEC community. Factors such as a renewal of environmental consciousness in the US, the federal government’s prioritization of green jobs and volatile energy costs, which have made sustainable design and energy efficiency even more attractive from an economic perspective, are driving this trend as was reported in the March 11, 2009 Zweigwhite’s 2009 AEC Industry Outlook: Strategy and Insight for Design & Construction Firms. Those organizations actively redefining what it means to print green—and those willing to “walk the green walk”—are in a unique position to maintain customer loyalty and capture market share in an increasingly competitive economic environment.
Converting to Recycled and FSC-certified Paper
Paper lies at the heart of reprographers’ operations. As times change striving to adopt procedures that conserve natural resources, reuse existing resources and embrace technology that make possible a more paperless, yet still viable, way of business is essential. Consider this: global production in the pulp, paper and publishing sector is expected to increase by 77 percent from 1995 to 2020 according to the OECD Environmental Outlook, Paris: OECD, 2001. Reprographers are in a unique position to help reduce this statistic by embracing green practices—such as technology that enables digital operations and minimizes inaccurate printing—that can minimize paper usage and paper waste.
Research by the Alliance for Environmental Innovation has shown that each ton of recycled fiber that displaces a ton of virgin fiber used in coated ground wood paper can:
- Reduce total energy consumption by 27 percent
- Lower net greenhouse gas emission by 47 percent and reduce particulate emissions by 28 percent
- Decrease wastewater by 33%, reduce solid waste by 54%, and reduce wood use by 100 percentaccording to the Environmental Paper Network, “Paper Related Statistics,” www.environmentalpaper.org/paper-statistics.html
Willamette Print & Blueprint, based in Portland, OR, can attest firsthand to benefits of utilizing their 30 percent post consumer waste paper milled at Sustainable Forestry Initiative locations. Given the approximately 144 tons of paper used in their production facilities each year, they are able to contribute to a savings of 576,000 KHW of energy, 1,108,000 gallons of water and 2,448 trees by making the switch to recycled media . “This practice helps preserve the delicate natural resources so vital to environmental sustainability and renewal,” said David Guzman, vice president & general manager, Willamette Print & Blueprint.
While the cost of using recycled paper may be slightly higher for clients than using “virgin stock”, many reprographers are finding their customers are less concerned about the associated costs than they are the environmental payback. And, because the look and feel of today’s recycled paper has dramatically improved so that it’s virtually indistinguishable from virgin bond, reprographers can also ensure they are supplying clients with high quality construction documents. In turn, AEC clients can then use those documents can be used to request Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) points in the Innovation in Design category for demonstrating quantifiable environmental benefits not specifically noted in the LEED Rating System.